Friday Rant: Time Is Money – But Doesn’t It Depend On How We Spend It?

Time is money. Time Flies. There's even an International Institute for the Study of Time. And this week's WSJ highlighted what they call "the Wait-Time Misery Index" as it pertains to waiting for home deliveries and service calls. Which is the basic equivalent of a five year old child chanting "I'm bored."

The Journal article hits a time perception dysfunction bulls eye in the opening line "Would you wait around if your friend was four hours late for dinner? No, but your cable company thinks this is a reasonable window of time to wait for service." Apples and oranges, or as my sage long past grandmother might have said, "what's that got to do with the price of eggs?" We humans have a kind of herding instinct that seems to produce expectation parody of all things. Because we have instantaneous access via our laptops and smart phones to just about anything we want or need to know -- and of course most anyone we wish to contact -- we have somehow come to expect that everything else in our lives ought to have accelerated to light speed as well.

Before you become apoplectic about the plumber, electrician, furniture / appliance delivery or cable guy not adhering with dinner guest punctuality, consider the nature of that work. No two jobs in the course of a day, week or month are alike. There may be traffic, parking or other logistical issues along with the fact that "average", as in average time to accomplish a particular task, is practically never realized on a per job basis. I had a brilliant Statistics professor at Wharton who began his first class of every semester by asking the class to define average. In rapid fire sequence he dismissed every attempt to answer the question and in a booming voice explained that "on average" each student in the class had one blank and one blank (the blanks referred to the singular of matching pairs of gender specific anatomy that each woman and man in the class possessed). I digress.

Granted, it's a pain to take off from work to receive goods and have emergency repairs made at home. But really, how awful is it? If you don't work on a retail or shop floor, chances are good that the quiet time spent waiting and working on one of many personal electronic devices (as the airlines call them) could be welcome. And what a dreadful waste of time would it be to read a book, newspaper or practice a musical instrument? If you think I'm crazy, pay for faster, more prompt service. According to the article, there are a bunch of delivery and service orgs experimenting with premium service options including UPS. But please don't divide your annual earnings by your awake hours and use the quotient as a measure of self worth.

- William Busch

First Voice

  1. Sampster:

    Similarly, a friend of mine recently articulated the many benefits of a home-cooked meal, as opposed to saving time by eating out.

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